World's largest airplane completes first test flight

World's largest airplane completes first test flight

World's largest airplane completes first test flight

Stratolaunch, set up by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is created to launch satellites into space from its wing.

Stratolaunch, the world's largest aircraft type by wingspan, has taken off on its maiden flight on Saturday. Floyd went on to remark, "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems".

After years of development in the desert north of Los Angeles, a huge, six-engined mega jet with the wingspan of an American football field flew Saturday morning for the first time.

According to their website, Stratolaunch aims to "make access to orbit as routine as catching a commercial airline flight is today".

The widest plane ever built prior to the Stratolaunch was the mid-20th-century H-4 Hercules - aka "Spruce Goose" - built by famous USA aviator Howard Hughes.

The reinforced center wing of the aircraft can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.

Weather conditions for Stratolaunch's first flight were ideal, with early morning temperatures in the 40's to 50's, light winds, minimum visibility of 10 miles reported by aviation weather surfaces and temperatures rising to 62 degrees Fahrenheit by 1030 local time.

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Powered by six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, it is s treat to the eyes Stratolaunch takes off with 28-wheel landing gear.

"The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want the first flight to be", Evan Thomas, a test pilot with Scaled Composites who flew the Stratolaunch, said at a news briefing.

Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011, after funding the development of the experimental air-launched SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately built manned rocket to reach space. "Really, for a first flight, it was spot on".

"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".

Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites.

Here's how Stratolaunch is supposed to work once the plane is fully tested and certified: The jet, carrying a rocket loaded with a satellite, will take off from Mojave and climb to an altitude of 35,000 feet. While in-flight, several tests were conducted to evaluate the aircraft flight control systems and test the handling.

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